Soil tests to improve bottom line
Originally published by Stock Journal.
With seeding fast approaching, graingrowers are encouraged to undertake soil testing before the 2019 growing season to help them make informed fertiliser decisions and save costs.
Below-average rainfall and below-average yields in many parts of southern Australia in 2018 has resulted in less nutrients being taken out of the soil through grain.
Australian Precision Ag Laboratory managing director Ryan Walker said growers and their agronomists should quantify this with soil tests to ensure they are getting the best value out of their fertiliser investment.
“Soil testing each year helps to build a better profile of knowledge so growers can understand what is happening with the nutrient status of their soils.
Dr Walker said soil testing ensured growers that soil nutrients were not being ‘mined’ but rather replacement rates are being added to build soil health and fertility.
“Soil analysis is fundamental to understanding soil. This provides growers and agronomists with a detailed analysis to form the basis for specific soil fertility and/or amelioration required to correct physical or chemical soil imbalances.”
Surveys conducted by GRDC indicated soil testing rates had experienced a 50 per cent reduction compared to nine years ago.
GRDC’s farm practices surveys show that in 2008 around 40pc of cropped area in the southern region of SA, Vic and Tasmania, were tested for nutrient status, while in 2016 this was less than 15pc.
To help improve these numbers, APAL is collaborating on a GRDC-funded project, soil and plant testing for profitable fertiliser use, with a number of partners.
The project aimed to improve nutrient management best practice through the increased use of soil testing.
“Besides soil nutrient status, soil testing can also estimate how much water can be stored in the soil, if there are any subsoil constraints or if there is potential for soil-borne diseases to occur,” Dr Walker said.
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